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Back Paleontology Early Birds

Early Birds

Giant pterosaur needed cliffs, downward-sloping runways to taxi, awkwardly take off into air

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It weighed about 155 pounds and had a 34-foot wingspan, close to the size of an F-16 fighter jet. A five-foot-long skull looked down from a standing height similar to that of a modern giraffe. By all measures, the ancient pterosaur Quetzalcoatlus was a Texas-sized giant of the air and created a frightening shadow as it soared across the sky.

 

It pushed the very boundaries of size to the brink, considered the largest flying animal yet to be discovered. Any larger, and it would have had to walk. But its bulk caused researchers to wonder how such a heavy animal with relatively flimsy wings became airborne.

Sankar Chatterjee, Horn Professor of Geosciences and curator of paleontology at the Museum of Texas Tech...

First Bird

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Archaeopteryx is the earliest undisputed bird. A weak flyer, it shared characteristics with its dinosaur ancestors. Fossils show that Archaeopteryx , like dinosaurs, had teeth, a long bony tail, and grasping claws on its wings, but also had a bird-style hip and feathers.

A particulary important and still contentious discovery is Archaeopteryx lithographica, found in the Jurassic Solnhofen Limestone of southern Germany, which is marked by rare but exceptionally well preserved fossils...

Extinction risk factors for New Zealand birds today differ from those of the past

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What makes some species more prone to extinction? A new study of nearly 300 species of New Zealand birds -- from pre-human times to the present -- reveals that the keys to survival today differ from those of the past.

The results are important in light of the growing number of studies that try to predict which species could be lost in the future based on what kinds of species are considered most threatened today, said lead author Lindell Bromham of Australian National...

An extinct species of scops owl has been discovered in Madeira

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1000pa (Mar. 23, 2012) — An international team of scientists, including some from Majorca and the Canary Islands, have described a new type of fossil scops owl, the first extinct bird on the archipelago of Madeira (Portugal). Otus mauli, which was also the first nocturnal bird of prey described in the area, lived on land and became extinct as a result of humans arriving on the island.

Twenty years ago, the German researcher Harald Pieper discovered fossil remains of a small...

Mystery of disappearing bird digit solved?

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1000pa (Sep. 4, 2011) — What is the origin of digits in birds? The question has long puzzled evolutionary biologists. Using genomic analysis, researchers have now solved a key part of this mystery.

Evolution adds and subtracts, and nowhere is this math more evident than in vertebrates, which are programmed to have five digits on each limb. But many species do not. Snakes, of course, have no digits, and birds have three.

Yale scientists now have a good handle on how these...

First Bird

First Bird
What was the earliest known bird?

Unexplained artifacts

unexplained artifacts
The 10 most amazing unexplained artifacts

Evolution

Timeline: Human Evolution

Biggest Dinosaurs

The 10 Biggest Dinosaurs

Fossils 

Fossil Formation: How Do Fossils Form?
 

Book review

Dinosaurs Encyclopedia

Book Review

Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages ... WRITTEN BY A PROFESSIONAL paleontologist specifically for young readers, this guide to the Dinosauria is packed...